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A day after students dressed up for "Thug Thursday" at a Utah high school, the principal has apologized to parents and students for the "very inappropriate" Spirit Week celebration.
This week at Olympus High School, students have been encouraged to dress according to themes, such as " 'Merica Monday," "Tropical Tuesday" and "Workout Wednesday."
But Thursday's event, where students were encouraged to dress like "thugs," was met with controversy. In a written apology addressed to the Olympus High Community, Principal Steve Perschon apologized for the "culturally insensitive" activity, which he said promoted negative and inaccurate stereotypes.
"This activity does not reflect the feelings or values of our school and community," Perschon wrote. "... My apologies to any member of our school and community who were made to feel unsafe, unvalued or denigrated in any way, shape or form."
Student leaders create and carry out Spirit Week activities, Perschon wrote, but advisors and school administration ultimately vet and approve the events. The principal said the school is "still determining" how the event was allowed to be publicized and carried out.
The Granite School District is also involved in that investigation, said communications director Ben Horsley.
Horsley said Friday that the student leaders had intended the day to celebrate "hip-hop culture" by mimicking the dress of some of their favorite musical artists.
"While it's appropriate to enjoy those types of activities in terms of music and culture, it's not appropriate to dress up in this type of way," Horsley said. "Especially under the banner of 'thug.' "
Perschon spoke to the students at an assembly Friday morning, Horsley said, and explained to the student body why the theme is offensive and can make others feel unsafe and insecure.
"The most important thing is to make sure all kids at Olympus High School feel safe and that they feel inclusive," Horsley said, "and they feel comfortable walking the halls at Olympus."
The district spokesman said Perschon on Thursday received emails from a concerned parent and a community member about "Thug Thursday." Since issuing the apology, the principal has received a few more emails, most in support of the principal for taking responsibility.
"People make mistakes," Horsley said. "This was a mistake."